Recycle, Reuse, Ride!
Chris Gilmour is not a name that will be familiar to many of us but here is a man with an obsession with cardboard and I mean an obsession. Originally from Stockport and now living in Udine, Italy where he creates these life-size works of art purely from cardboard and glue.
Mad Artist disease?
His first life size sculpture was of a cow in 1998 during the BSE crisis, made as a replacement for slaughtered animals “so the fields don’t look empty” and the resulting press coverage helped to launch his career. Since then he has rendered numerous everyday objects from an espresso pot all the way up to a representation of James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, complete with spy gadgets and machine guns.
He does consider his art to have a serious message and is quoted as saying that “my pieces provoke a chain of thought, thinking about a way of raising the idea of empowerment in the face of materialism and the over-emphasis society places on material possessions”, basically, that the cardboard is a representation of consumerism and the waste that it creates.
Packing it in
At first a lot of people didn’t realise or believe that these objects were really rendered from cardboard and nothing else and thought that he was merely covering everyday objects in paper. Initially he sculpted with cardboard that had not been previously used, but as the years progressed, Chris started to reuse old packing boxes and food wrappings proudly displaying their printing or tape marks, barcodes and labels etc. “I like the idea of concentrating on the material in it’s ‘natural state’ and playing with the idea of these beautiful objects represented with a material from the waste basket”.
Chris has exhibited all over the world, New York, London, Hamburg, Venice and in France. To date all of his pieces have been sold. In 2013 Fellowes, a manufacturer of office supplies and accessories, commissioned Chris to recreate the “cityscapes” of London, Paris and Berlin made only from their ‘Bankers Boxes’. A sculpture of his entitled ‘The Triumph of Good and Evil’ which was produced in 2009, a knight on horseback slaying a dragon, is now in the Museum of Arts & Design in New York and another at the Dikeou Collection in Denver, US.
Over a seven year period from 2003 to 2010 he constructed a number of sculptures that will be of interest to the scootering fraternity, most notably his Vespa Ape taxi and a Lambretta complete with a cardboard engine, sadly it does not start – so is quite realistic really!
His pieces do not contain any sort of framework or supporting structure and therefore are considerably fragile and could easily be damaged but as he himself says “I find the challenge of finding solutions to these kinds of problems to be one of the attractions of working with cardboard”. When asked why he uses cardboard and not a more substantial medium like bronze or marble he says that one of his reasons for using cardboard is that “it is so easy to find” and “that could never be possible with bronze or marble”.
Chris’s main aim is to try to provoke a reaction to the object he creates, which in turn he hopes leads to a desire for the viewer to interact with those objects, for example “you want to open the car door, or turn the wheel on the bike, but of course you can’t”, he says or in the case of the scooters just jump on and ride away. He wants people to feel a kinship with the objects he makes, that they bring out our memories and emotions and therefore we are more likely to engage with his sculpture and with the medium that he uses. This in turn passes on his message of recycling and reusing and some of his sculptures will certainly resonate with us scooter owners and riders because we have essentially been doing this for years without realising it, digging out those old Lammies and Vespas and restoring, reusing and riding, I definitely think we get the message!